IT’S THE UNIONS AGAINST companies in a high-stakes and so far evenly matched battle to raise the tax rate on high earners.
In November, Massachusetts voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that would raise the tax rate by 4 percentage points on income over $1 million. If the initiative is adopted, the extra tax money would be earmarked for education and transportation.
A coalition made up mostly of labor unions has so far raised nearly $10 million this year for its campaign to pass the amendment, while a group made up mostly of businessmen opposed to the tax hike has raised over $9 million.
According to campaign finance reports submitted Friday to the Office of Campaigns and Political Finance, the pro-tax committee Fair Share Massachusetts raised $9.9 million this year in cash with an additional $1.5 million in in-kind contributions. .
While there are around 300 small individual donations, most of the money comes from unions, especially teachers’ unions. The American Federation of Teachers donated over $1 million, the Massachusetts Teachers Association contributed $4.6 million, and the National Education Association, the MTA’s parent union, donated over $4 million. About $485,000 came from SEIU affiliates. Other unions and liberal organizing groups also made donations.
The organization’s expenses reflect a significant investment in personnel, indicating that the group is gearing up for a campaign on the ground over the next two months.
The Liberal Social Justice Coalition and the Massachusetts Teachers Association have also formed their own committees, but these are primarily vehicles for ensuring proper reporting when organizations are reimbursed for staff time and expenses related to advocacy. voting matters. The MTA group did not report any fundraising. The Social Justice Coalition committee brought in $94,000, but $76,500 of that was transferred from Fair Share Massachusetts.
The opposing group, the Coalition to Stop the Tax Hike Amendment, raised about $9.1 million. The largest sums came from a small number of wealthy businessmen and corporations.
New Balance Chairman James Davis donated $1 million, as did Connecticut-based Rand-Whitney Containerboard and Boston-based Suffolk Construction. Bain Capital executive Paul Edgerley and his wife, real estate developer Sandra Edgerley, gave $1 million between them. Many donors work in the financial sector, with Philip Gross, managing director of Adage Capital Management, and Boston-based investment firm CrossHarbor Capital Partners each donating $500,000. FoxRock Capital, based in Quincy, donated $400,000.
The committee has spent significant sums on consulting fees and is starting to do digital advertising.
Here’s a breakdown of fundraising for other voting issues:
Insurer Delta Dental has paid more than $4 million to oppose a ballot question that would regulate dental insurance, in what is shaping up to be a financially lopsided tussle between the insurance industry and dentists.
The ballot issue, sponsored by a group of orthodontists and dentists, would require dental insurers to spend at least 83% of premiums on clinical costs and quality improvements, rather than administrative costs, as an existing rule in force for health insurance. Proponents of the issue see it as a way to limit high administrative expenses and save consumers money. But insurers say dental plans are different from health plans because they have lower premiums but have many of the same fixed costs. They say the policy would result in higher premiums and make dental insurance less affordable.
According to campaign finance reports, the polling committee formed to oppose the issue has raised nearly $5 million this year. Of that amount, $4.5 million came from the Dental Service of Massachusetts, the insurance company that operates as Delta Dental. The rest came from other insurance companies – including the main life insurance company, Sun Life Financial and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company – with some help from contributions of staff time and contact lists from the National Association of Dental Plans.
The electoral issue was led by orthodontist Mouhab Rizkallah, whobeen prosecutedby Attorney General Maura Healey for submitting false statements to MassHealth. The Massachusetts Dental Society later came out in favor of this idea. Supporters are currently split between three different voting committees.
Rizkallah’s group, the Dental Insurance Quality Committee, raised $888,000, of which Rizkallah donated $851,000. Massachusetts Dental Care Providers for Better Dental Care Benefits, a committee funded primarily by the American Dental Association and the Massachusetts Dental Society, raised $125,000. A final group, Fair Share for Dental Care, was formed in August by Robert Leland, a dentist practicing in Hanover, and political strategist Ben Martello. He did not say he collected any money.
Another ballot issue drawing money from a narrow segment of industry groups is one that would change the number of liquor sales licenses available to different types of stores and change the rules governing liquor sales.
Supporters of the ballot question include the Massachusetts Package Store Association and individual Massachusetts-owned liquor stores. Supporters raised $803,000 this year, of which $631,500 came from the association and the rest from independent stores, such as Kappy’s, Gordon’s Fine Wine and Liquor, Julio’s Liquors and Baystate Wine Company, among others.
The issue is being disputed by grocery stores and the Cumberland Farms convenience store chain. Opponents of the ballot question have formed a ballot committee, Food Stores for Consumer Choice, with forms filed by attorney and former Massachusetts House attorney Louis Rizoli. He hasn’t raised any money yet.
A late-filed ballot item is a referendum to overturn a recently passed law granting driver’s licenses to immigrants without legal status.
Secretary Bill Galvin told organizers on Friday they had collected enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
The pro-repeal voting committee, Fair and Secure Massachusetts, has raised just under $50,000 so far, half of it from Rick Green, a 1A Auto executive and active Conservative Massachusetts leader. Tax Alliance.
Supporters of the law are expected to create a polling question soon, but have yet to begin fundraising.